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Swimsuit Maker Vilebrequin Wants To Keep Our Beaches Clean

A cynic might say that bathing suit manufacturer Vilebrequin has a self interest in clean beaches and the vital aquatic life it holds, as evidenced by its recent partnership with Fabien Cousteau’s Plant A Fish organization. And frankly, that’s great news for those of us who believe that corporate social responsibility has to be good for business as well as the community.

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A cynic might say that bathing suit manufacturer Vilebrequin has a self interest in clean beaches and the vital aquatic life it holds. After all, swimming, snorkeling, deep sea diving, boating, and other ocean-oriented recreational and educational activities are good for the swimwear business. Well, frankly, that’s great news for those of us who believe that corporate social responsibility has to be good for business as well as the community. This is the classic win-win, and that’s a sustainable arrangement.

Fabien Cousteau, grandson of renowned oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, has figured out how to make chic swimming trunks pay off for the environment. As the founder of Plant A Fish (PAF), an organization devoted to restoring “our one and only water planet,” Cousteau established a partnership with Vilebrequin for the company to celebrate its 40th anniversary. With a portion of the company’s sales from a specially designed men’s and boys’ suit (modeled in the photo by Cousteau), Vilebrequin helps to fund PAF’s work in restoring the population of sea turtles, an endangered species essential to the balance of the aquatic ecosystem. And here’s another win-win: While the survival of sea turtles is vital to the environment, the sea turtle is also the symbol of Vilebrequin’s brand.

“As a company, we benefit by selling the PAF swimsuits and delighting our customers, while also making a meaningful and relevant contribution to improving the world,” Brian Lange, Vilebrequin’s Managing Director, said in an interview. Lange also pointed out the value of the company’s association with Fabien Cousteau, someone who has a rich heritage and high ideals.

As a third-generation ocean explorer and environmentalist with a commitment to restoring the world’s oceans, Cousteau established PAF to actively engage people in “re-planting” aquatic species of plants and animals in environmentally stressed areas. “We provide individuals, communities, governments, and companies with the tools to restore the world’s oceans and waterways to ensure our children’s futures, including for the purposes of a vital economy,” Cousteau told me. 

Not only did Cousteau engage Vilebrequin as an active participant in PAF’s restoration work, he engaged its customers as well. “People like to tell stories,” said Lange. These swimsuits come with a story to tell.

[Top image: Flickr user motleypixel]

About the author

Korngold provides strategy consulting to global corporations on sustainability, facilitating corporate-nonprofit partnerships, and training and placing hundreds of business executives on NGO/nonprofit boards for 20+ years. She provides strategy and board governance consulting to NGO/nonprofit boards, foundations, and educational and healthcare institutions.

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